After news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death began to circulate Sunday, former teammate and confidant Rick Fox was rumored to have lost his life in the deadly helicopter crash as well. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and on Tuesday, the retired basketball star revealed how those erroneous reports brought unspeakable pain and anguish to his friends and family.
People reports that during a special edition of TNT’s Inside the NBA, the 50-year-old joined NBA greats Dwyane Wade, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Derek Fisher, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson to discuss how his family fell victim to unfounded rumors and inaccurate reporting.
After reflecting on Kobe’s death, Fox was candid and revealed that one of his daughter’s greatest fears is to learn that one of her parents died from social media.
“My family went through, in the midst of all this, something that I couldn’t imagine them experiencing,” he said. “[My daughter], fortunately, called me and we were just talking and crying about the news of Kobe.”
While he was on the phone with his daughter, however, his phone began to blow up with call after call, which Fox ignored because he just “[wanted] to be with my kids and family” after hearing such devastating news. He soon realized that King Rice, his best friend, had been notified that Fox might’ve been in the helicopter.
“I’m seeing King’s number repeatedly going and going and going, and I think he’s worried about me,” Fox said. “So I said, ‘I’m gonna talk to my best friend.’ So I answered and said, ‘Hey man, this is crazy about Kobe,’ and he just was bawling.”
He continued, “I started crying. And he was like, ‘You’re alive!’ And I was like, ‘Well, yeah. Like what do you mean?’ And it was in that moment that my phone just started going, and my mom and my sister and my brother […] This has been a lot to process for all of us.”
After assuring his family of his safety, it was Fox’s stepdaughter, Jillian Hervey, who took to Twitter to confirm he was alive and well.
“To confirm my stepdad Rick Fox is ALIVE and safe!” she tweeted on Sunday. “I just got off the phone with my sister. We are all in shock and deeply saddened but please don’t spread false news. #ripkobe”
Fox is grateful to still be with us but is clearly still rocked by not only the death of his friend but how his own rumored demise affected his family.
“I’m glad that’s over with,” he said. “But it was hard to deal with because it shook a lot of people in my life.”